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The Benefits of Reading Scary Books

Free Horror books
Every summer, readers of a certain type go searching for great horror novels and ebooks. To help those readers looking for a scary summer read, we collected all the free horror books in our catalog. You can start reading some of the scariest books in history today! Now is the perfect time to start reading classic horror novels with a free book club on Fable. You can join a special club moderated by Count Dracula himself!
Start reading free novels with the Horror Classics Book Club!

A frightening new moderator

Using artificial intelligence technology, we’ve created a digital version of Dracula who can share insights from his centuries of undead life, deliver sophisticated answers to your questions, and bring the shadows of night to our community conversations!As the club reads together, Dracula will post A.I.-generated commentary every week, and you can ask him questions directly by typing @Dracula. Fable’s editorial team will review every post from Dracula to ensure his commentary is appropriate and accurate.

How horror books can help you

Some readers shy away from scary novels, but they actually have therapeutic benefits. Teen librarian Sara Harrington wrote about how the horror genre helped her cope with anxiety disorders in a heartfelt essay at Electric Literature. Instead of being overwhelmed by her obsessions, scary books helped her find "a safe haven" where she didn't have to be controlled by her anxiety.

"The generalized fear of an anxiety disorder creates a fight-or-flight response to an intangible threat, a threat that can’t be fought nor fled from. Reading horror allowed me to take all that adrenaline and pour it into something outside of myself, something that I could see resolved at the end of the story. It gave me the gift of catharsis."

But that's not all! Other readers and researchers have found more evidence that reading scary stories can help you...

Five wellness benefits of horror novels

  1. You can learn that "everything is surmountable and survivable"
  2. You can cope better with frightening aspects of life
  3. You can become more resilient
  4. You can develop long-term anxiety coping skills
  5. You can "build stronger relationships and memories" with shared scary reading experiences

Free Scary Books on Fable

So what are you waiting for? Try a free horror novel and enjoy some of these benefits for yourself!Start with these classics, it's the perfect way to explore our social reading platform and launch a book club with friends!
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley digital book - Fable


By Mary Shelley

A literary classic that asks us to question our own conceptions of what it means to be human, what makes us human, and what creatures do we create with each of our actions.

Dracula by Bram Stoker digital book - Fable


By Bram Stoker

Dracula is one of the most famous public-domain horror novels in existence, responsible not just for introducing the eponymous Count Dracula, but for introducing many of the common tropes we see in modern horror fiction.

Turn of the Screw  by Henry James digital book - Fable

Turn of the Screw

By Henry James

One of the most famous ghost stories in literature, The Turn of the Screw earned its place in the annals of influential English novellas not for its qualities as a gothic ghost story, but rather for the many complex and subtle twists.

Short Fiction by M. R. James digital book - Fable

Short Fiction

By M. R. James

The stereotypical Jamesian ghost story involves a scholar or gentleman in a European village who, through his own curiosity, greed, or simple bad luck, has a horrifying supernatural encounter. James’ stories find their horror in their atmosphere and mood.

The Beetle by Richard Marsh digital book - Fable

The Beetle

By Richard Marsh

This novel is steeped in the evil mysteries of an ancient horror: a mysterious ancient Egyptian creature bent on revenge. The story is told through the points of view of middle-class Victorians who find themselves enmeshed in the creature’s plot.

The Dark Other by Stanley G. Weinbaum digital book - Fable

The Dark Other

By Stanley G. Weinbaum

Patricia Lane, a spirited young woman, in a passionate relationship with Nicholas Devine, a writer with a fascination with horror. When his personality shifts, Patricia turns to a talented psychologist to discover the source of the outbursts.

Brood of the Witch-Queen by Sax Rohmer digital book - Fable

Brood of the Witch-Queen

By Sax Rohmer

After a mystical attack on Robert, Dr. Cairn and his son become involved in a series of supernatural events as they work to prevent Antony Ferrara from inflicting his dark magic on more victims.

Short Fiction by H. P. Lovecraft digital book - Fable

Short Fiction

By H. P. Lovecraft

Modern fantasy and horror features take shape in Lovecraft’s stories, creating a backdrop of the bizarre and evil behind seemingly day-to-day lives. A thread of cosmic horror soon turns anything normal towards madness.

In a Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu digital book - Fable

In a Glass Darkly

By J. Sheridan Le Fanu

In a Glass Darkly is a collection of five short stories, presented as posthumous papers of cases of the “metaphysical” doctor Dr. Martin Hesselius, one of the first literary occult detectives..

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers digital book - Fable

The King in Yellow

By Robert W. Chambers

The King in Yellow is a fascinating, almost two-faced work. The first half consists of five legendary weird tales, loosely tied together by a fictional play—the eponymous King in Yellow—that drives those who read it mad.

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson digital book - Fable

The House on the Borderland

By William Hope Hodgson

This novel is one of the earliest examples of the departure of horror fiction from the Gothic style of supernatural, psychological hauntings, to more realist, science-fiction/cosmic horror themes.

Short Fiction by Arthur Machen digital book - Fable

Short Fiction

By Arthur Machen

Arthur Machen was a Welsh man of letters who wrote his most famous work in the late 1890s and early 1900s. While his body of work is wide, he’s perhaps best known for his supernaturally-flavored proto-horror short stories.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson digital book - Fable

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

By Robert Louis Stevenson

This story follows a London lawyer as he investigates the relationship between a brilliant scientist and a misshapen misanthrope. As the link between the two becomes clearer, Jekyll and Hyde develops into an allegory on the nature of good and evil.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe digital book - Fable

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

By Edgar Allan Poe

Pym begins as a swashbuckling adventure novel, and after growing increasingly weirder, ends on a surreal note worthy of the best of Poe’s short stories. It influenced the themes of weird fiction writers like H. P. Lovecraft.

Read more free books on Fable

Even if you aren't a fan of horror novels, Fable has plenty of free books in every genre!You can also start your own scary book list or start a book club dedicated to one of these classic horror novels. Also try Russian Classics From Dark Days: Elif Batuman. In that Folio from a Pulitzer Prize finalist, you’ll see a few of Elif Batuman’s favorite Russian fiction classics from days darker than ours, featuring some great free novels.

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